Monday, 29 April 2013

Banoffee Cheesecake - smooth indulgence!

Everybody loves Banoffee Pie, but have you tried Banoffee Cheesecake?  This recipe is from one of my singing friends, Alex, who was raving about it, so I had to try, and he's right!   Simplicity to make, it combines the classic cheesecake smoothness with the heavenly caramel/banana combination we all adore.    You could make it with gluten free digestive biscuits.

Banoffee Cheesecake

8oz/225g crushed digestive biscuits (or Hobnobs)
4oz/110g melted butter

1 tin Carnation Caramel (or you boil a tin of condensed milk for 2 hours)
3 bananas
½ - ¾ pint whipped cream
1 250ml (approx) tub mascarpone cheese
1 250ml (approx) tub cream or curd cheese
2oz/50g caster sugar (not sure this is entirely necessary!)
juice of half a lemon
grated chocolate to serve

Line the base of a 9” spring clip tin with baking parchment.   Mix the digestives and melted butter, press into the tin and chill until set. 

Whip the cream, and stir in the lemon juice, cheeses and sugar.   Spread the caramel over the biscuit base, chop the bananas over the top and cover with the cheesecake mixture.   Grate chocolate on the top.  

Friday, 26 April 2013

Three Fruit Salad - fresh and elegant

Not being a fan of the "lucky dip" type of fruit salad, crammed with every kind of fruit all leaching colour into one another, I have evolved a preference for three fruits only, of different colours and textures.  No sugar syrup, just plain unsweetened fruit juice.   Less is definitely more when it comes to fruit salad!
Serve with home made ice cream and little biscuits/meringues if you wish, but otherwise enjoy the simple flavours of well-chosen fresh fruit.   (This is not an opportunity to get rid of a lot of overripe fruit - save that for a smoothie!)  The salad below is pineapple, with strawberry and banana, in orange juice, decorated with mint.

Three Fruit Salad

Pineapple, Strawberry and Banana – serves 6

1 pineapple
1lb/450g ripe strawberries
2 underripe bananas (green/yellow, not yellow/black)
approx 1 pint fruit juice – apple or orange
mint leaves

Cut the fruit into roughly even pieces, layer in the bowl and pour the juice over so that the fruit is nearly covered, not drowning.    Leave for at least half an hour.    If you are using bananas, you could sprinkle on a little lemon juice to stop them going black.

If your strawberries are not very ripe/scented, sprinkle with icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon and leave in a warm place for half an hour, alternatively, put in the microwave for 15-30 seconds! 

Other good combinations:
Strawberry, grape, orange flesh melon/nectarine

Fruits to avoid:
Apples, blackberries, raspberries and any of those 1980's fruits – kiwi, star etc….

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Real Brandysnaps - quick and easy!

Brandysnaps are so easy to make, it's strange that there's such a mystique attached to them!    Piped with whipped cream, they are the epitome of a sophisticated English tea.   They keep well, too (without the cream filling), although I can't really see the point, as they are so quick to make.   Fill them not too long before you want to eat them, as otherwise they go a bit soft.   This recipe makes about 10 or so, depending on size.


2oz/50g butter or margarine
2oz/50g caster sugar
2 tbs golden syrup
2oz/50g plain flour (or rice flour)
½ level tsp ground ginger
1tsp brandy
grated zest of half a lemon

To fill:  half a pint of double cream, whipped

Line 2-3 flat baking trays with parchment or non-stick paper.   Preheat oven to 180deg C.   Grease the handles of three or four wooden spoons (personally I use a large bore apple corer).

Melt the butter, sugar and syrup over low heat.  Take off heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.    Put spoonfuls (about ¾ dessertspoon) of the mix on the baking sheets – as far apart as you can, as they spread!   Bake a sheet at a time in the oven for up to 10 minutes until golden and bubbling – watch them carefully as they turn black VERY quickly.    When you take them out, they look almost lacy, and are very floppy, then they will slowly harden.   When you can pick one up and it is still floppy, but doesn’t break, wrap it around the wooden spoon.    Repeat with the next ones. 

If it is too soft, it will break when you pick it up – just push the broken bit back and let it harden slightly.  If it is too hard, pop it back into the oven for a moment and it will soften again.    I do find myself cutting off the darker bits if they’ve over-browned!    

Whip the cream, and pipe it into the brandysnaps with a ½” plain or crown nozzle.   I don’t usually force the cream right through to the middle of the snap, but pipe at least an inch – don’t be stingy!  

Remember, the mistakes taste just as good – crushed in ice cream or on a yoghurt and berries combination.   

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Lime and Basil Ice Cream

I came across this absolutely delicious ice cream in Portugal last year - a refreshing combination of limes offset by the unusual basil.  It rocks!   Based on the easy lemon ice cream formula, there are no eggs involved, and from start to finish it takes about 3/4 hour, if you use an ice cream maker.

Lime and Basil Ice Cream
Lime and Basil Ice Cream

4 limes, both zest and juice
8oz/225g caster sugar
1pint/450ml double cream
½ tsp salt
good handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Put the juice and grated zest into a large bowl and add the sugar.   Then add the cream and the salt, which thickens the mixture.  Freeze in either an ice-cream maker or bowl (if you use a bowl, you have to mix it up every hour or so to prevent ice crystals forming).   Add the basil about half an hour into the process so that it doesn’t get mashed by the paddle of the ice cream maker.    This makes about a litre of ice cream, suitable for 5 people.  

To get more juice out of the limes, put them in the microwave for about 20 seconds before squeezing. 

If you like this recipe, why not let me know how you got on with it?  I'm also on Facebook "Kate's Puddings" and Twitter @katespuddings.  My cookbook is on sale via my website  This recipe is featured in my cookbook, together with 75 others, many of which will not be appearing on the blog!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Traditional Meringues - quick to make, even quicker to eat!

Meringues are the most glorious inventions, and seem to be eaten faster than almost anything!   I don't know who first discovered that whisking egg whites with sugar produced such deliciousness, but they certainly deserve a place in pudding heaven....  I adore meringues, associating them with birthdays, as my mother made them for our parties - little tiny piped ones, like those in the photo.    Please note that these are NOTHING like the explosive solid meringues you buy!    As a keen pudding-maker, I always have lots of left-over egg whites, so can whip up a batch of meringues in minutes after cooking something else, and then put them into the cooling oven (and quite often forget them, but that's another story!).

Traditional Meringues

3 egg whites
6oz/170g caster sugar 
1 tsp vanilla (if wanted)
half pint of double cream

Oven - 150 deg C, turning down to 100 deg C when the meringues go in

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, preferably in an open mixer like a Kenwood or Kitchen Aid, instead of a closed food processor.    Add the sugar a tablespoonful at a time, still whisking.  Lastly, add the essence.    Line a large flat baking tray with silicone parchment, possibly two.  Using a piping bag with a .5” plain nozzle, pipe the meringue mixture on the baking tray to the size you want (or you can simply spoon the meringue onto the tray if you want a more rustic shape).  

Bake for about an hour, keeping an eye on them.   I like my meringues to be soft in the middle, but if you like them hard all the way through, and with a bit of colour, turn the oven off and leave them for longer.

Allow the meringues to cool on a wire rack.     Whip the double cream until it holds its shape, but is not stiff.   Line the meringues upside down, ready to grab.   Pipe a good blob of cream onto every other one, and stick them in pairs (obvious really, but I’ve sometimes been left with some odd combinations!).  Also, you could melt some dark chocolate and paint the base of each meringue.  When the chocolate has set, stick them together with cream.   This stops the meringues from going soft! 

Meringues can be stored in an air-tight tin, or even in the freezer.  Left-overs (if there are any) are fantastic in ice cream, or Eton Mess.  

Monday, 15 April 2013

White Chocolate Mousse

This fabulous recipe is both simple and delicious, and a welcome taste of summer!  The one photographed below is from Stour Festival, where it was introduced for the first time last year.  It promptly disappeared!   If you make the mousse base using gluten-free digestive biscuits, it is also gluten-free.   The only tricky part of this recipe is having the ingredients at roughly similar temperatures - I've found that the chocolate doesn't mix well into the cream/crème fraiche mix if the latter are too cold.   Also, don't let the chocolate get too hot when you are melting it, as it goes granular.

White Chocolate Mousse

8oz/225g crushed digestive or Hobnob biscuits
4oz/100g plain dark chocolate
8oz/225g punnet of strawberries, hulled and sliced thinly

12oz/350g white chocolate
1 pint double cream
2 x 8 fl.oz/225ml tubs of crème fraiche

Use a 9” spring clip tin, and line the base with non-stick parchment.    Melt the dark chocolate, either in the microwave, or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water – don’t let the water touch the chocolate.   Mix in the crushed biscuits and spread it evenly in the tin.  Put the base into the fridge while you assemble the mousse. 

Whip the double cream until it is starting to thicken, but still soft, then stir in the crème fraiche.   Melt the white chocolate as above, stirring until only just melted.    Fold the chocolate into the whipped cream/crème fraiche, and then stir gently until it is smooth. 

Get the chocolate base out of the fridge, and place the strawberries all around the edge.  Pour/scoop the mousse into the tin, using it to prop up the strawberries at first, before smoothing the top.   Put it back into the fridge until it has set firm.  

To serve, remove the spring clip and carefully ease the mousse off the paper and metal base (I have a cake lifter which does this job amazingly well!).  Decorate the mousse – I usually use mint leaves and flowers.  

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Yoghurt and Lemon Curd Ice

This delicious "frogurt" is a simple invention born of necessity!   I had a cow's milk allergic friend to stay, and wanted to give her the chance to have a delicious pudding, so it is made with goats' yoghurt.  I served it to everybody, not telling them what it was made with.   It was so delicious, I then made it with my own lemon curd instead of commercial curd, but as that contains butter, it was no longer dairy-free.  It is still a much nicer mixture than cow's yoghurt, and lower in fat than cream.  This quantity will make just over a pint.

Yoghurt and Lemon Curd Ice

1 pint/500ml tub of Goats’ milk yoghurt (or sheeps’ milk)
about 3oz/75g sugar (to taste)
3 or 4 tbsp lemon curd (find no-dairy lemon curd if necessary)

Mix all the ingredients together and put into an ice cream maker.  Churn until thick.   You can make it without the lemon curd, just as plain "frogurt" but make sure that it tastes sweet before you churn it – freezing makes the sugar lose its intensity.   This takes about 30-40 minutes in an ice cream maker.  

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Chocolate Ambrosia - nectar in a bowl!

This chocolate ambrosia recipe is from Sue, another Cathedral Choir House mum.  It is simple, has only three ingredients (apart from the Demerara sugar topping) and is absolutely divine!  When you read the recipe you will be surprised at its simplicity, when you eat it, you will be coming back for more. The yoghurt gives it an almost lemony flavour, which offsets the sweetness of the chocolate and cream.   If you used diabetic chocolate, and didn't put on the sugar, it would be suitable for diabetics too, as well as being gluten free.   It does need to be left overnight before eating, to allow the chocolate to melt into the mixture.

For me, Ambrosia is associated with Christmas and Easter, when we would bring and share lunch for the choristers and their families, and it was always polished off very quickly indeed....

Chocolate Ambrosia
Chocolate Ambrosia

1 pint/500ml double or whipping cream
1 pint/500ml plain natural yoghurt
10oz/300g grated plain chocolate
(Sue sometimes uses orange chocolate, and adds some Cointreau as well!)

Whip the cream until thick, mix in the yoghurt.  Grate the chocolate and fold it into the mixture.   Put it into a large bowl and leave in the fridge overnight.

Before serving, dust the top with Demerara sugar.   This quantity serves about 8 greedy people…. 

If you like this recipe, why not let me know how you got on with it?  I'm also on Facebook "Kate's Puddings" and Twitter @katespuddings.  My cookbook is on sale via my website  This recipe is featured in my cookbook, together with 75 others, many of which will not be appearing on the blog!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Apple Brown Betty - hot and easy!

Brown Betty is a traditional hot pudding made with fruit and breadcrumbs - lighter than a pastry crumble or pie, it has a delicious spicy crunch, then a lovely lemony/apply mid-layer, and is wonderful with home made vanilla ice cream.     This recipe is especially for young Matthew, who adores making puddings and wanted one with apples... sadly, it doesn't photograph as well as it tastes!   It's very easy to make, and highly suitable for students with stale bread to get rid of....

Apple Brown Betty

1lb/450g cooking apples (you could use rhubarb, gooseberries etc)
4oz/110g brown or white breadcrumbs (preferably stale)
2oz/50g melted butter
6oz/180g soft brown or muscovado sugar
rind and juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C, and butter a baking dish (big enough for 6).    Peel, core and slice the apples.   Soak the crumbs in the melted butter.  Lastly, mix the sugar with the lemon, spices and vanilla.  

This dish is made of several layers – a third of the breadcrumbs first, followed by half the apples, then half the sugar mixture spooned on top.   When you complete a layer, add a couple of tablespoons of water too.   Finish with a layer of crumbs.  

Cover with foil and cook for about 40 minutes, before removing the foil, raising the oven temperature to 200 deg C and giving the pudding a 10 minute blast to crisp up the crumbs on the top.  Don't let it burn. 

This is delicious with all the usual accompaniments – ice cream, cream or Greek yoghurt.  

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Quick Chocolate Pots

Chocolate pots - very rich, very smooth, very lovely...  but so quick to make, so divine to eat!   I adore chocolate puddings, and this is one of my favourites - the richness can be varied if you use single or double cream (but double gives a thicker result), and obviously better quality chocolate will be richer.  It would also be suitable for diabetics if you used very dark chocolate.

This is a gluten-free recipe, but definitely contains calories.   Like the lemon pots, it looks pretty served in little coffee cups with a whipped cream top and a coffee bean for decoration.

Quick Chocolate Pots

8oz/225g block good quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
½ pint/300ml single or double cream
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp brandy/liqueur
½ oz/20g butter at room temperature

Heat the cream in a milk pan, but do not let it boil.   Turn down the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until it is smooth.   Remove from the heat, add the egg yolks and the liqueur, lastly the butter.  Stir all the ingredients until smooth, and pour into little coffee cups or ramekins. 

Chill until set – at least two hours – serving with a blob of whipped cream.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Rustic Pear Tart - Delicious Magazine

This is a fabulous recipe I found in Delicious Magazine, and very appropriate in this snowy weather!   Rustic because there is no fluted tart dish or posh pie, just a lovely rich pastry encircling the juicy cinnamony pears....    It went very well with home made custard, and also with vanilla ice cream.    Serving 6 people, it looks more unusual than a standard pie, and the pastry was very light and buttery.  This will become a favourite!

Rustic Pear Tart
Rustic Pear Tart

8oz/225g plain flour
3tbsp caster sugar
½ tsp salt
5oz/140g butter, chilled
1 large egg

4-5 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1tbsp soft light brown sugar
½ tbsp ground cinnamon (yes, that much!)
1tbsp plain flour
1 egg, beaten (to glaze)
icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. 

Make the pastry either by hand (rubbing the fat into the flour, then adding the egg), or in a processor .   If it is too dry, add a little more water.  Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes (the recipe says 30-40).   

Put the pears into a large bowl and toss with the sugar, cinnamon and flour.  Roll out the pastry on a sheet of non-stick parchment to give a large circle about 5mm/1/4” thick.  Arrange the pears in the middle of the circle, leaving a border of about 8cm/3 inches.   Use the sides of the paper to help lift the pastry over the pears, folding the sides up and around the pears so the juice doesn’t leak.   Brush the pastry with beaten egg, then bake for 40 minutes until golden. 

Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar, accompanied by whipped cream, Greek yoghurt, ice cream, home made custard or all of the above!   

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Creamy Rice Pudding

Rice pudding brings back memories of school and childhood..... not always pleasurable either!   My mother's oven-baked rice pudding was horrible (sorry Mum) - a hefty burned skin on top of solid grains of rice in a bath of hot milk, and school rice pudding, with a similar texture to concrete, not much better.   Over the years, I've evolved my preferred method, which is to treat it as risotto, and stir it until you get a deliciously thick, creamy pudding - no skin, no claggy lumps, just perfect!   Here it is, with a dash of home made raspberry jam, and fresh nutmeg.

Rice Pudding

1 pint milk
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons short grain (pudding) rice

½ tsp grated nutmeg, if liked

This basic 1:2:3 proportion makes enough for 3-4 people, and I usually make double.  

Put all the ingredients together in a large pan, and slowly bring to a very slow  boil, just above a simmer, stirring constantly to stop the milk from sticking on the base of the pan.  Stir until it has become thick and creamy, and the rice is cooked – ie, with a bit of bite.    This will take about 15-20 minutes or so – if you are in a hurry, pre-heat the milk in the microwave. 

Serve with a grating of fresh nutmeg and jam, or golden syrup.   Can be eaten cold, and reheated - if you are reheating it, add some more milk as it will be solid.